Category Archives: Aging

Aug 21 2013

Influencing Young Doctors

The news media has recently covered some innovative programs that are influencing the choices and attitudes of the next generation of doctors.

American Medical News reports on the Buddy Program, which pairs first-year medical students with early-stage Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. The program empowers patients, and also serves as a valuable learning tool for the students, heightening “their sensitivity and empathy toward people with the disease.” The program was developed at the Northwestern University Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago; Boston University, Dartmouth College, and Washington University have replicated it.

NPR reports on a program at the University of Missouri School of Medicine that is encouraging more young doctors to pursue primary care in rural areas. During the summers, the school has been sending medical students to work alongside country doctors. While school officials caution they can’t be sure about the reasons, they have discovered that students who took part in the summer program were more likely to become primary care doctors who practice family medicine.  Some 46 percent of participants are choosing to work in the country after completing their medical training.

Read more about the Buddy Program in American Medical News.
Read more about the University of Missouri’s summer in the country program on

Jul 9 2013

Recent Research About Nursing, July 2013

This is part of the July 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.

NP-Doctor Co-Management of Geriatric Cases Leads to Improved Outcomes

New research finds that geriatric patients with chronic conditions may have better outcomes if their cases are co-managed by a nurse practitioner (NP) and a physician than by a physician alone.

David Reuben, MD, chief of the Geriatrics Division in the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, reports on the research leading to that conclusion in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Reuben and colleagues studied the cases of 485 patients who had one of four chronic conditions: falls; urinary incontinence (UI); dementia/Alzheimer's disease; or depression. Some of their cases were managed by doctors alone, and others were co-managed by doctors and NPs.

The researchers then examined individual patients' charts, assessing the quality of their care using several specific quality indicators. They found that patients whose cases were co-managed generally had better care, and significantly better care for some conditions. "Quality scores for all conditions (falls, 80 percent vs. 34 percent; UI, 66 percent vs. 19 percent; dementia, 59 percent vs. 38 percent) except depression (63 percent vs. 60 percent) were higher for individuals who saw a NP," they wrote.

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Feb 28 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: ‘Dynamic environments’ for older adults, specialty nurses, racial diversity on campuses, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, RWJF senior adviser for nursing, spoke this month at the Oregon Center for Nursing conference on the future of nursing leadership, according to The Lund Report. “We need to be keeping more data, recording our expertise and speaking up for ourselves so when people say quality of care, they will also say, quality of nursing,” she said.

Alicia I. Arbaje, MD, MPH, an alumna of the RWJF Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program and the RWJF Clinical Scholars program, was a guest on NBC Nightly News discussing the need for older adults to live in “dynamic environments” like college towns, where they can stay physically active and socially engaged. See the clips here and here.

A white paper co-authored by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Kathleen Sutcliffe, PhD, “breaks down the behaviors of managers who are the best at anticipating, containing, and repairing catastrophes,” Business Insider reports. Among those behaviors: they overcome cognitive biases and update their beliefs, and they don't ignore small problems until they snowball into larger ones.

Science Magazine reports on research by RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Rashawn Ray, PhD, that finds women of color often encounter an unwelcoming environment in graduate school, and have a particularly hard time finding primary mentors who share their experiences and can provide guidance.

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Feb 14 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Chronic migraines, food recall ‘message fatigue,’ longevity and obesity, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

Health Canal reports on a study led by RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna Joanna Kempner, PhD, that examines the social stigma surrounding chronic migraine sufferers. “The enduring image of the typical migraine patient is a white, middle-class woman who just isn’t good at handling stress,” Kempner said. “She is seen as neurotic and weak, a stigma that has been hard to change.”

RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar alumna Ruth Taylor-Piliae, PhD, RN, FAHA, was featured in MyHealthNewsDaily, an online health care news digest, for her study suggesting Tai Chi can reduce the number of falls in adults who have survived a stroke. Taylor-Piliae, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing in Tucson, surveyed 89 stroke survivors and found that practicing Tai Chi helps alleviate balance problems that afflict many survivors. Read more about her work.

Medpage Today reports on research co-authored by William K. Hallman, PhD, director of the Rutgers University Food Policy Institute and recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, about how to motivate consumers to look for and discard recalled food products. Hallman participated in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meeting this week on breaking through food recall “message fatigue” [free subscription].

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Nov 29 2012

Human Capital News Roundup: Aging in place, unemployment’s link to heart attacks, AIDS support groups, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

The New York Times spoke with several RWJF scholars for a story about how hospitals are taking steps to avoid financial penalties from Medicare for having too many patients readmitted soon after discharge. “Just blaming the patients or saying ‘it’s destiny’ or ‘we can’t do any better’ is a premature conclusion and is likely to be wrong… I’ve got to believe we can do much, much better,” RWJF Clinical Scholars Yale site director Harlan Krumholz, MD, said. Clinical Scholars alumnus Eric Coleman, MD, MPH, and RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars alumnus Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, were also interviewed for the story.

Two other Clinical Scholars were featured in the New York Times. Alumna Leora Horwitz, MD, MHS, wrote an op-ed about the risks and benefits of electronic medical records, and RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Jason Lott, MD, MSHP, published a letter to the editor about the cost of robotic surgery and single-incision operations.

A program headed by RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Sarah L. Szanton, PhD, CRNP, is helping elderly Baltimore residents improve the safety and living standards of their homes so they can “age in place” instead of having to move to nursing homes, the Baltimore Sun reports. In addition to handyman services like installing ramps and handrails, participants are paired with occupational therapists and nurses who teach them medication management and other skills.

The New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) is making headway in recruiting, educating, and retaining nurse faculty in the state, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Leaders in health, business and academics testified at a state Senate committee hearing last week about NJNI’s progress in addressing the nurse faculty shortage. Read more about the hearing.

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Nov 20 2012

Study: More Primary Care Physicians Needed by 2025

The United States will need 52,000 additional primary care physicians by 2025 to meet demand that is growing due to three trends: population growth, population aging and insurance expansion. That is a key finding from a study published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. The researchers estimate that population growth will account for the majority of the needed increase in primary care doctors.

Given the current number of visits to primary care physicians and an expected population increase of 15.2 percent, the researchers predict that office visits to primary care physicians will increase from 462 million in 2008 to 565 million in 2025. This trend will be especially evident among people 65 and older, a segment of the population that is expected to grow by 60 percent. Population growth will require an additional 33,000 physicians, the study says, and aging another 10,000.

Insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act will also require additional physicians, the researchers find. Eight thousand physicians will be needed to meet that growth.

The 52,000 additional primary care physicians would represent a 3 percent increase in the workforce.

Read the study.

Sep 27 2012

Human Capital News Roundup: Life expectancy, the aging brain, diabetes prevention, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

A story in the New York Times reports on a study, co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholars Program Director Lisa Berkman, PhD, and RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient James Jackson, PhD, that finds the life expectancy of the country’s least-educated whites is decreasing. The story also cites research by Health & Society Scholar Jennifer Montez, PhD, which found similar trends for the least-educated Americans.

Christina Roberto, PhD, a Health & Society Scholar, spoke to USA Today about McDonald's posting calorie counts on its menu boards and drive-through menus, a move that could be required of all chain restaurants in the future. “In general, this is a hot topic,” she said. “The industry is concerned about policies that either [deter] customers from coming or hurt their bottom line.”

Health & Society Scholars alumnus Jason Block, MD, was also in the news to discuss fast food calorie counts. MedPage Today reports on research he led that finds many parents underestimate how many calories are in the fast food meals they buy for their school-age children.

The Paramus Post and the News Record report on some of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) scholars who have completed NJNI’s Faculty Preparation Program. Twenty of the program's Scholars graduated this year with advanced degrees that prepare them to serve as nurse faculty. reports on the recent retirement of Shirley Chater, RN, PhD, FAAN, who was the national advisory committee chair for the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program since its inception in 1998. Learn more about Chater's impressive career here and here.

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Aug 31 2012

Federal Nursing, Health Care Workforce Grants Announced

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week announced more than $100 million in new grants to expand and strengthen the nation’s health care workforce. The goal of the funding is to educate and strengthen training for health care workers, and provide fellowships and traineeships.

The grants include:

Nursing ($30.2 million): Partial loan forgiveness for students who serve as full-time nursing faculty for a designated period of time after graduating from a master’s or doctoral program; grants for schools of nursing to provide financial aid and mentoring to students from disadvantaged backgrounds underrepresented in nursing; and funding for nurse anesthetist traineeship programs for licensed registered nurses enrolled in master’s or doctoral nurse anesthesia programs.

Dental ($3.0 million): Grants to increase oral health care education capacity for programs that train future faculty in general, pediatric, or public health dentistry, or in dental hygiene.

Public Health ($48.0 million): Funds for 37 Public Health Training Centers to train current and future public health workers in basic health skills and key public health issues; and grants to expand public health training programs and support medical residency-type fellowships at state and local health departments.

Interdisciplinary and Geriatric Education ($6.6 million): Grants for projects to train and educate workers to provide geriatric care for the elderly; and support for the collaboration and integration of public health curricula in medical and clinical education.

Centers of Excellence ($18.8 million): A five-year program to support the recruitment and performance of underrepresented minority students entering health careers, and to support research and the development of curricula, training and resources related to minority health issues.

“These grants and the programs they support are vital to achieving a comprehensive and culturally competent health professions workforce capable of meeting future health care challenges,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement announcing the funds.

Learn more about the new federal grants here and here.

Jul 19 2012

Cautiously Optimistic about the Affordable Care Act - If Older Americans and Their Advocates Speak Out as It Is Implemented

This is part of a series in which Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, grantees and alumni offer perspectives on the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the Affordable Care Act.  Margaret P. Moss, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN, is associate professor, Yale School of Nursing and an alumna of the RWJF Health Policy Fellows program (2008 – 2009).


As I reflect upon the monumental decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act, I can’t help but be awed by how the branches of government are alive and well and operating just as they were designed to work.  But as I filter what this decision will mean for the groups I am most closely tied with professionally and personally, I am struck at how the ‘system’—public and private—has largely let them down.


My professional focus has been in aging, and in particular American Indian aging.  My profession is nursing, with a background in law.  I am optimistic that these groups, both patient and provider, will be lifted and solidified by the spirit of this law.  But I am cautious that the letter of the law must be handled with an eye toward impact, unintended consequences, short-term pilot and demonstration projects, and authorized but unfunded rules.

There can be no question that there are provisions in the Act that no-one would dispute are positive.  The most cited are: 1) no more pre-existing condition exclusions, 2) the ability to keep adult children under parents’ plans until after college age, and 3) widening the net for coverage to include those now uninsured. The opposing point being moot now with the Supreme Court’s decision, we must look forward and responsibly carry out the law before us.  Unfortunately, the devil, as they say, is in the details.

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Jul 5 2012

Human Capital News Roundup: The Affordable Care Act, aging at home, service-learning projects, and more

“Many people see the Supreme Court's ruling as a watershed moment in the history of health care. I have a slightly different view,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, writes in the Atlantic. “[Last week’s] decision cleared the way for states to go forward in implementing the law and ensuring that people don't die or go bankrupt for a lack of coverage. That will mean a lot of hard work from all parties: states, the federal government, individuals and the private sector. No doubt it was a historic day. But it's not yesterday that is going to define health care in this country. It's what we all do today, tomorrow and every day after.” Read Lavizzo-Mourey’s statement on the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act ruling.

Several media outlets spoke to Laura Brennaman, RN, MSN, CEN, a scholar at the RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico, as she camped outside the Supreme Court to get a seat for the announcement of its ruling. Among them: the Washington Post, CNN’s Political Ticker blog, the Daily Beast, and Brennaman, who is an emergency department nurse from Fort Myers, Fla., was also present for the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the law in March. Read a post her Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative colleague, Lauri Lineweaver, MSN, RN, CCRN-CSC, wrote about the experience.

Other RWJF fellows and program directors were in the news to discuss the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act. RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Juliann Sebastian, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was a guest on KVNO News to discuss how the Affordable Care Act will affect Nebraskans and the challenges associated with implementing the law. Judi Hilman, an RWJF Community Health Leader and executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project, spoke to the Salt Lake Tribune. RWJF Health & Society Scholars program co-director Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, president of the New York Academy of Medicine, gave comments to The Fiscal Times.

Medical News Today reports on the “Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders” (CAPABLE) initiative, led by RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Sarah Szanton, PhD, CRNP, MSN. It works to keep at-risk seniors who are on Medicare and Medicaid in their homes and improve their quality of life. Szanton’s project was recently awarded a $4 million Health Care Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Stephen Black, JD, MTS, a Community Health Leader, was the speaker at a Greater Shelby (Ala.) Chamber of Commerce luncheon, according to a story in the Shelby County Reporter. Black is founder and president of Impact Alabama, which develops and implements service-learning projects for college and graduate students, including an initiative that has provided free, technologically advanced vision screenings for more than 25,000 children in 60 counties throughout Alabama.